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The Fifteen Books of
Ovid’s Metamorphoses, 1567



At length my chariot wheele about the mark hath found the way,
And at their weery races end, my breathlesse horses stay.
The woork is brought to end by which the author did account
(And rightly) with externall fame above the starres to mount.
For whatsoever hath bene writ of auncient tyme in greeke
By sundry men dispersedly, and in the latin eeke,
Of this same dark Philosophie of turned shapes, the same
Hath Ovid into one whole masse in this booke brought in frame.
Fowre kynd of things in this his worke the Poet dooth conteyne.
That nothing under heaven dooth ay in stedfast state remayne. … [Ep.10]
And next that nothing perisheth: but that eche substance takes
Another shape than that it had. Of theis twoo points he makes
The proof by shewing through his woorke the wonderfull exchaunge
Of Goddes, men, beasts, and elements, to sundry shapes right straunge,
Beginning with creation of the world, and man of slyme,
And so proceeding with the turnes that happened till his tyme.
Then sheweth he the soule of man from dying to be free,
By samples of the noblemen, who for their vertues bee
Accounted and canonized for Goddes by heathen men,
And by the peynes of Lymbo lake, and blysfull state agen … [Ep.20]
Of spirits in th’Elysian feelds. And though that of theis three
He make discourse dispersedly: yit specially they bee
Discussed in the latter booke in that oration where
He bringeth in Pythagoras disswading men from feare
Of death, and preaching abstinence from flesh of living things.
But as for that opinion which Pythagoras there brings
Of soules removing out of beasts to men, and out of men
Too birdes and beasts both wyld and tame, both to and fro agen:
It is not to be understand of that same soule whereby
Wee are endewd with reason and discretion from on hie: … [Ep.30]
But of that soule or lyfe the which brute beasts as well as wee
Enjoy. Three sortes of lyfe or soule (for so they termed bee)
Are found in things. The first gives powre to thryve, encrease and grow,
And this in senselesse herbes and trees and shrubs itself dooth show.
The second giveth powre to move and use of senses fyve,
And this remaynes in brutish beasts, and keepeth them alyve.
Both theis are mortall, as the which receyved of the aire
By force of Phebus, after death doo thither eft repayre.
The third gives understanding, wit, and reason: and the same
Is it alonly which with us of soule dooth beare the name. … [Ep. 40]
And as the second dooth conteine the first: even so the third
Conteyneth both the other twaine. And neyther beast, nor bird,
Nor fish, nor herb, nor tree, nor shrub, nor any earthly wyght
(Save only man) can of the same partake the heavenly myght.
I graunt that when our breath dooth from our bodies go away,
It dooth eftsoones returne to ayre: and of that ayre there may
Both bird and beast participate, and wee of theirs likewyse.
For wbyle wee live, (the thing itself appeereth to our eyes)
Bothe they and wee draw all one breath. But for to deeme or say
Our noble soule (which is divine and permanent for ay) … [Ep.50]
Is common to us with the beasts, I think it nothing lesse
Than for to bee a poynt of him that wisdome dooth professe.
Of this I am ryght well assurde, there is no Christen wyght
That can by fondnesse be so farre seduced from the ryght.
And finally hee dooth proceede in shewing that not all
That beare the name of men (how strong, feerce, stout, bold, hardy, tall,
How wyse, fayre, rych, or hyghly borne, how much renownd by fame,
So ere they bee, although on earth of Goddes they beare the name)
Are for to be accounted men: but such as under awe
Of reasons rule continually doo live in vertues law: … [Ep.60]
And that the rest doo differ nought from beasts, but rather bee
Much woorse than beasts, bicause they doo, abace theyr owne degree.
To naturall philosophye the formest three perteyne,
The fowrth to morall: and in all are pitthye, apt and playne
Instructions which import the prayse of vertues and the shame
Of vices, with the due rewardes of eyther of the same.

As for example, in the tale of Daphnee turnd to Bay,
A myrror of virginitie appeere unto us may,
Which yeelding neyther unto feare, nor force, nor flatterye,
Doth purchace everlasting fame and immortalitye. … [Ep.70]

In Phaetons fable unto syght the Poet dooth expresse
The natures of ambition blynd, and youthfull wilfulnesse.
The end whereof is miserie, and bringeth at the last
Repentance when it is too late that all redresse is past.
And how the weaknesse and the want of wit in magistrate
Confoundeth both his common weale and eeke his owne estate.
This fable also dooth advyse all parents and all such
As bring up youth, to take good heede of cockering them too much.
It further dooth commende the meane: and willeth to beware
Of rash and hasty promises which most pernicious are, … [Ep.80]
And not to bee performed: and in fine it playnly showes
What sorrow to the parents and to all the kinred growes
By disobedience of the chyld: and in the chyld is ment
The disobedient subject that ageinst his prince is bent.
The transformations of the Crow and Raven doo declare
That Clawbacks and Colcariers ought wysely to beware
Of whom, to whom, and what they speake. For sore against his will
Can any freendly hart abyde to heare reported ill
The partie whom he favoureth. This tale dooth eeke bewray
The rage of wrath and jelozie to have no kynd of stay: … [Ep.90]
And that lyght credit to reportes in no wyse should be given,
For feare that men too late to just repentance should bee driven.
The fable of Ocyroee by all such folk is told
As are in serching things to come too curious and too bold.
A very good example is describde in Battus tale
For covetous people which for gayne doo set theyr toongs to sale.

All such as doo in flattring freaks, and hawks, and hownds delyght,
And dyce, and cards, and for to spend the tyme both day and nyght
In foule excesse of chamberworke, or too much meate and drink:
Uppon the piteous storie of Acteon ought to think. … [Ep.100]
For theis and theyr adherents usde excessive are in deede
The dogs that dayly doo devour theyr followers on with speede.
Tyresias willes inferior folk in any wyse to shun
Too judge betweene their betters least in perill they doo run.
Narcissus is of scornfulnesse and pryde a myrror cleere,
Where beawties fading vanitie most playnly may appeere.
And Echo in the selfsame tale dooth kyndly represent
The lewd behaviour of a bawd, and his due punishment.

The piteous tale of Pyramus and Thisbee doth conteine
The headie force of frentick love whose end is wo and payne. … [Ep.110]
The snares of Mars and Venus shew that tyme will bring to lyght
The secret sinnes that folk commit in corners or by nyght.
Hermaphrodite and Salmacis declare that idlenesse
Is cheefest nurce and cherisher of all volupteousnesse,
And that voluptuous lyfe breedes sin: which linking all toogither
Make men to bee effeminate, unweeldy, weake and lither.

Rich Piers daughters turnd to Pies doo openly declare
That none so bold to vaunt themselves as blindest bayardes are.
The Muses playnly doo declare ageine a toother syde,
That whereas cheefest wisdom is, most meeldnesse dooth abyde. … [Ep.120]

Arachnee may example bee that folk should not contend
Ageinst their betters, nor persist in error to the end.
So dooth the tale of Niobee and of her children: and
The transformation of the Carles that dwelt in Lycie land,
Toogither with the fleaing of of piper Marsies skin.
The first doo also show that long it is ere God begin
Too pay us for our faults, and that he warnes us oft before
Too leave our folly: but at length his vengeance striketh sore.
And therfore that no wyght should strive with God in word nor thought
Nor deede. But pryde and fond desyre of prayse have ever wrought … [Ep.130]
Confusion to the parties which accompt of them do make.
For some of such a nature bee that if they once doo take
Opinion (be it ryght or wrong) they rather will agree
To dye, than seeme to take a foyle: so obstinate they bee.
The tale of Tereus, Philomele, and Prognee dooth conteyne
That folke are blynd in thyngs that to their proper weale perteyne.
And that the man in whom the fyre of furious lust dooth reigne
Dooth run to mischeefe like a horse that getteth loose the reyne.
It also shewes the cruell wreake of women in their wrath
And that no hainous mischiefe long delay of vengeance hath. … [Ep.140]
And lastly that distresse doth drive a man to looke about
And seeke all corners of his wits, what way to wind him out.

The good successe of Jason in the land of Colchos, and
The dooings of Medea since, doo give to understand
That nothing is so hard but peyne and travell doo it win,
For fortune ever favoreth such as boldly doo begin:
That women both in helping and in hurting have no match
When they to eyther bend their wits: and how that for to catch
An honest meener under fayre pretence of frendship, is
An easie matter. Also there is warning given of this, … [Ep.150]
That men should never hastely give eare to fugitives,
Nor into handes of sorcerers commit their state or lyves.
It shewes in fine of stepmoothers the deadly hate in part,
And vengeaunce most unnaturall that was in moothers hart.
The deedes of Theseus are a spurre to prowesse, and a glasse
How princes sonnes and noblemen their youthfull yeeres should passe.
King Minos shewes that kings in hand no wrongfull wars should take,
And what provision for the same they should before hand make.
King Aeacus gives also there example how that kings
Should keepe their promise and their leages above all other things. … [Ep.160]
His grave description of the plage and end thereof, expresse
The wrath of God on man for sin: and how that nerethelesse
He dooth us spare and multiply ageine for goodmens sakes.
The whole discourse of Cephalus and Procris mention makes
That maried folke should warely shunne the vyce of jealozie
And of suspicion should avoyd all causes utterly,
Reproving by the way all such as causelesse doo misdeeme
The chaste and giltlesse for the deedes of those that faultie seeme.

The storie of the daughter of king Nisus setteth out
What wicked lust drives folk unto to bring their wills about. … [Ep.170]
And of a rightuous judge is given example in the same,
Who for no meede nor frendship will consent to any blame.
Wee may perceyve in Dedalus how every man by kynd
Desyres to bee at libertie, and with an earnest mynd
Dooth seeke to see his native soyle, and how that streight distresse
Dooth make men wyse, and sharpes their wits to fynd their own redresse.
Wee also lerne by Icarus how good it is to bee
In meane estate and not to clymb too hygh, but to agree
Too wholsome counsell: for the hyre of disobedience is
Repentance when it is too late forthinking things amisse. … [Ep.180]
And Partrich telles that excellence in any thing procures
Men envie, even among those frendes whom nature most assures.
Philemon and his feere are rules of godly pacient lyfe,
Of sparing thrift, and mutuall love betweene the man and wyfe,
Of due obedience, of the feare of God, and of reward
For good or evill usage shewd to wandring straungers ward.
In Erisicthon dooth appeere a lyvely image both
Of wickednesse and crueltie which any wyght may lothe,
And of the hyre that longs thereto. He sheweth also playne
That whereas prodigalitie and gluttony dooth reigne, … [Ep.190]
A world of riches and of goods are ever with the least
Too satisfye the appetite and eye of such a beast.

In Hercules and Acheloyes encounters is set out
The nature and behaviour of two wooers that be stout.
Wherein the Poet covertly taunts such as beeing bace
Doo seeke by forged pedegrees to seeme of noble race.
Who when they doo perceyve no truth uppon their syde to stand,
In stead of reason and of ryght use force and myght of hand.
This fable also signifies that valiantnesse of hart
Consisteth not in woords, but deedes: and that all slyght and Art … [Ep.200]
Give place to prowesse. Furthermore in Nessus wee may see
What breach of promise commeth to, and how that such as bee
Unable for to wreake theyr harmes by force, doo oft devyse
Too wreake themselves by policie in farre more cruell wise.
And Deyanira dooth declare the force of jealozie
Deceyved through too lyght beleef and fond simplicitie.
The processe following peinteth out true manlynesse of hart
Which yeeldeth neyther unto death, to sorrow, greef, nor smart.
And finally it shewes that such as live in true renowne
Of vertue heere, have after death an everlasting crowne … [Ep.210]
Of glorie. Cawne and Byblis are examples contrarie:
The Mayd of most outrageous lust, the man of chastitie.

The tenth booke cheefly dooth containe one kynd of argument
Reproving most prodigious lusts of such as have bene bent
To incest most unnaturall. And in the latter end
It showeth in Hippomenes how greatly folk offend
That are ingrate for benefits which God or man bestow
Uppon them in the time of neede. Moreover it dooth show
That beawty (will they nill they) aye dooth men in daunger throw:
And that it is a foolyshnesse to stryve ageinst the thing … [Ep.220]
Which God before determineth to passe in tyme to bring.
And last of all Adonis death dooth shew that manhod strives
Against forewarning though men see the perill of theyr lyves.

The death of Orphey sheweth Gods just vengeance on the vyle
And wicked sort which horribly with incest them defyle.
In Midas of a covetous wretch the image wee may see
Whose riches justly to himself a hellish torment bee,
And of a foole whom neyther proof nor warning can amend,
Untill he feele the shame and smart that folly doth him send.
His Barbour represents all blabs which seeme with chyld to bee … [Ep.230]
Untill that they have blaazd abrode the things they heare or see.
In Ceyx and Alcyone appeeres most constant love,
Such as betweene the man and wyfe to bee it dooth behove.
This Ceyx also is a lyght of princely courtesie
And bountie toward such whom neede compelleth for too flie.
His viage also dooth declare how vainly men are led
To utter perill through fond toyes and fansies in their head.
For Idols, doubtfull oracles and soothsayres prophecies
Doo nothing else but make fooles fayne and blynd their bleared eyes.
Dedalions daughter warnes to use the toong with modestee … [Ep.240]
And not to vaunt with such as are their betters in degree.

The seege of Troy, the death of men, the razing of the citie,
And slaughter of king Priams stock without remors of pitie,
Which in the xii. and xiii. bookes bee written, doo declare
How heynous wilfull perjurie and filthie whoredome are
In syght of God. The frentick fray betweene the Lapithes and
The Centaures is a note wherby is given to understand
The beastly rage of drunkennesse.

~~~ Ulysses dooth expresse
The image of discretion, wit, and great advisednesse.
And Ajax on the other syde doth represent a man … [Ep.250]
Stout, headie, irefull, hault of mynd, and such a one as can
Abyde to suffer no repulse. And both of them declare
How covetous of glorie and reward mens natures are.
And finally it sheweth playne that wisdome dooth prevayle
In all attempts and purposes when strength of hand dooth fayle.
The death of fayre Polyxena dooth shew a princely mynd
And firme regard of honor rare engraft in woman kynd.
And Polymnestor, king of Thrace, dooth shew himself to bee
A glasse for wretched covetous folke wherein themselves to see.
This storie further witnesseth that murther crieth ay … [Ep.260]
For vengeance, and itself one tyme or other dooth bewray.
The tale of Gyant Polypheme doth evidently prove
That nothing is so feerce and wyld, which yeeldeth not to love.
And in the person of the selfsame Gyant is set out
The rude and homely wooing of a country cloyne and lout.

The tale of Apes reproves the vyce of wilfull perjurie,
And willeth people to beware they use not for to lye.
Aeneas going downe to hell dooth shew that vertue may
In saufty travell where it will, and nothing can it stay.
The length of lyfe in Sybill dooth declare it is but vayne … [Ep.270]
Too wish long lyfe, syth length of lyfe is also length of payne.
The Grecian Achemenides dooth lerne us how we ought
Bee thankfull for the benefits that any man hath wrought.
And in this Achemenides the Poet dooth expresse
The image of exceeding feare in daunger and distresse.
What else are Circes witchcrafts and enchauntments than the vyle
And filthy pleasures of the flesh which doo our soules defyle?
And what is else herbe Moly than the gift of stayednesse
And temperance which dooth all fowle concupiscence represse?
The tale of Anaxaretee willes dames of hygh degree … [Ep.280]
To use their lovers courteously how meane so ere they bee.
And Iphis lernes inferior folkes too fondly not to set
Their love on such as are too hygh for their estate to get.

Alemons sonne declares that men should willingly obay
What God commaundes, and not uppon exceptions seeme to stay.
For he will find the meanes to bring the purpose well about,
And in their most necessitie dispatch them saufly out
Of daunger. The oration of Pithagoras implyes
A sum of all the former woorke. What person can devyse
A notabler example of true love and godlynesse … [Ep.290]
To ones owne natyve countryward than Cippus dooth expresse?
The turning to a blazing starre of Julius Cesar showes,
That fame and immortalitie of vertuous dooing growes.
And lastly by examples of Augustus and a few
Of other noble princes sonnes the author there dooth shew
That noblemen and gentlemen shoulde stryve to passe the fame
And vertues of their aunceters, or else to match the same.
Theis fables out of every booke I have interpreted,
To shew how they and all the rest may stand a man in sted.
Not adding over curiously the meaning of them all, … [Ep.300]
For that were labor infinite, and tediousnesse not small
Bothe unto your good Lordship and the rest that should them reede
Who well myght think I did the boundes of modestie exceede,
If I this one epistle should with matters overcharge
Which scarce a booke of many quyres can well conteyne at large.
And whereas in interpreting theis few I attribute
The things to one, which heathen men to many Gods impute,
Concerning mercy, wrath for sin, and other gifts of grace:
Described for examples sake in proper tyme and place,
Let no man marvell at the same. For though that they as blynd … [Ep.310]
Through unbeleefe, and led astray through error even of kynd,
Knew not the true eternall God., or if they did him know,
Yit did they not acknowledge him, but vaynly did bestow
The honor of the maker on the creature: yit it dooth
Behove all us (who ryghtly are instructed in the sooth)
To thinke and say that God alone is he that rules all things
And worketh all in all, as lord of lords and king of kings,
With whom there are none other Gods that any sway may beare,
No fatall law to bynd him by, no fortune for to feare.
For Gods, and fate, and fortune are the termes of heathennesse, … [Ep.320]
If men usurp them in the sense that Paynims doo expresse.
But if wee will reduce their sense to ryght of Christian law,
To signifie three other things theis termes wee well may draw.
By Gods wee understand all such as God hath plaast in cheef
Estate to punish sin, and for the godly folkes releef:
By fate the order which is set and stablished in things
By Gods eternall will and word, which in due season brings
All matters to their falling out. Which falling out or end
(Bicause our curious reason is too weake to comprehend
The cause and order of the same, and dooth behold it fall … [Ep.330]
Unwares to us) by name of chaunce or fortune wee it call.
If any man will say theis things may better lerned bee
Out of divine philosophie or scripture, I agree
That nothing may in worthinesse with holy writ compare.
Howbeeit so farre foorth as things no whit impeachment are
To vertue and to godlynesse but furtherers of the same,
I trust wee may them saufly use without desert of blame.
And yet there are (and those not of the rude and vulgar sort,
But such as have of godlynesse and lerning good report)
That thinke the Poets tooke their first occasion of theis things … [Ep.340]
From holy writ as from the well from whence all wisdome springs.
What man is he but would suppose the author of this booke
The first foundation of his woorke from Moyses wryghtings tooke?
Not only in effect he dooth with Genesis agree,
But also in the order of creation, save that hee
Makes no distinction of the dayes. For what is else at all
That shapelesse, rude, and pestred heape which Chaos he dooth call,
Than even that universall masse of things which God did make
In one whole lump before that ech their proper place did take.
Of which the Byble saith, that in the first beginning God … [Ep.350]
Made heaven and earth: the earth was waste, and darkness yit abod
Uppon the deepe: which holy woordes declare unto us playne
That fyre, ayre, water, and the earth did undistinct remayne
In one grosse bodie at the first.
~~~ “For God the father that
Made all things, framing out the world according to the plat,
Conceyved everlastingly in mynd, made first of all
Both heaven and earth uncorporall and such as could not fall
As objects under sense of sight: and also aire lykewyse,
And emptynesse: and for theis twaine apt termes he did devyse.
He called ayer darknesse: for the ayre by kynd is darke. … [Ep.360]
And emptynesse by name of depth full aptly he did marke:
For emptynesse is deepe and waste by nature. Overmore
He formed also bodylesse (as other things before)
The natures both of water and of spirit. And in fyne
The lyght: which beeing made to bee a patterne most divine
Whereby to forme the fixed starres and wandring planets seven,
With all the lyghts that afterward should beawtifie the heaven,
Was made by God both bodylesse and of so pure a kynd,
As that it could alonly bee perceyved by the mynd.”
To thys effect are Philos words. And certainly this same … [Ep.370]
Is it that Poets in their worke confused Chaos name.
Not that Gods woorkes at any tyme were pact confusedly
Toogither: but bicause no place nor outward shape whereby
To shew them to the feeble sense of mans deceytfull syght
Was yit appointed unto things, untill that by his myght
And wondrous wisdome God in tyme set open to the eye
The things that he before all tyme had everlastingly
Decreed by his providence. But let us further see
How Ovids scantlings with the whole true patterne doo agree.
The first day by his mighty word (sayth Moyses) God made lyght, … [Ep.380]
The second day the firmament, which heaven or welkin hyght.
The third day he did part the earth from sea and made it drie,
Commaunding it to beare all kynd of frutes abundantly.
The fowrth day he did make the lyghts of heaven to shyne from hye,
And stablished a law in them to rule their courses by.
The fifth day he did make the whales and fishes of the deepe,
With all the birds and fethered fowles that in the aire doo keepe,
The sixth day God made every beast both wyld and tame, and woormes
That creept on ground according to their severall kynds and foormes.
And in the image of himself he formed man of clay … [Ep.390]
To bee the Lord of all his woorkes the very selfsame day.
This is the sum of Moyses woords. And Ovid (whether it were
By following of the text aright, or that his mynd did beare
Him witnesse that there are no Gods but one) dooth playne uphold
That God (although he knew him not) was he that did unfold
The former Chaos, putting it in forme and facion new,
As may appeere by theis his woordes which underneath ensew:
“This stryfe did God and nature breake and set in order dew.
The earth from heaven, the sea from earth he parted orderly,
And from the thicke and foggie aire he tooke the lyghtsome skye.” … [Ep.400]
In theis few lynes he comprehends the whole effect of that
Which God did woork the first three dayes about this noble plat.
And then by distributions he entreateth by and by
More largely of the selfsame things, and paynts them out to eye
With all their bounds and furniture: and whereas wee doo fynd
The terme of nature joynd with God: (according to the mynd
Of lerned men) by joyning so, is ment none other thing,
But God the Lord of nature who did all in order bring.
The distributions beeing doone right lernedly, anon
To shew the other three dayes workes he thus proceedeth on: … [Ep.410]
“The heavenly soyle to Goddes and starres and planets first he gave
The waters next both fresh and salt he let the fishes have.
The suttle ayre to flickering fowles and birds he hath assignd,
The earth to beasts both wyld and tame of sundry sorts and kynd.”
Thus partly in the outward phrase, but more in verie deede,
He seemes according to the sense of scripture to proceede.
And when he commes to speake of man, he dooth not vainly say
(As sum have written) that he was before all tyme for ay,
Ne mentioneth mo Gods than one in making him. But thus
He both in sentence and in sense his meening dooth discusse. … [Ep.420]
“Howbeeit yit of all this whyle the creature wanting was
Farre more divine, of nobler mynd, which should the resdew passe
In depth of knowledge, reason, wit and hygh capacitee,
And which of all the resdew should the Lord and ruler bee.
Then eyther he that made the world and things in order set,
Of heavenly seede engendred man: or else the earth as yet
Yoong, lusty, fresh, and in her flowre, and parted from the skye
But late before, the seedes thereof as yit hild inwardly.
The which Prometheus tempring streyght with water of the spring,
Did make in likenesse to the Goddes that governe every thing.” … [Ep.430]
What other thing meenes Ovid heere by terme of heavenly seede,
Than mans immortall sowle, which is divine, and commes in deede
From heaven, and was inspyrde by God, as Moyses sheweth playne?
And whereas of Prometheus he seemes to adde a vayne
Devyce, as though he ment that he had formed man of clay,
Although it bee a tale put in for pleasure by the way:
Yit by th’interpretation of the name we well may gather,
He did include a misterie and secret meening rather.
This woord Prometheus signifies a person sage and wyse,
Of great foresyght, who headily will nothing enterpryse. … [Ep.440]
It was the name of one that first did images invent:
Of whom the Poets doo report that hee to heaven up went,
And there stole fyre, through which he made his images alyve:
And therfore that he formed men the Paynims did contryve.
Now when the Poet red perchaunce that God almyghty by
His providence and by his woord (which everlastingly
Is ay his wisdome) made the world, and also man to beare
His image, and to bee the lord of all the things that were
Erst made, and that he shaped him of earth or slymy clay:
Hee tooke occasion in the way of fabling for to say … [Ep.450]
That wyse Prometheus tempring earth with water of the spring,
Did forme it lyke the Gods above that governe every thing.
Thus may Prometheus seeme to bee th’eternall woord of God,
His wisdom, and his providence which formed man of clod.
“And where all other things behold the ground with groveling eye:
He gave to man a stately looke replete with majesty:
And willd him to behold the heaven with countnance cast on hye,
To mark and understand what things are in the starrie skye.”
In theis same woordes, both parts of man the Poet dooth expresse
As in a glasse, and giveth us instruction to addresse … [Ep.460]
Our selves to know our owne estate: as that wee bee not borne
To follow lust, or serve the paunch lyke brutish beasts forlorne,
But for to lyft our eyes as well of body as of mynd
To heaven as to our native soyle from whence wee have by kynd
Our better part: and by the sight thereof to lerne to know
And knowledge him that dwelleth there: and wholly to bestow
Our care and travail to the prayse and glorie of his name
Who for the sakes of mortall men created first the same.
Moreover by the golden age what other thing is ment,
Than Adams tyme in Paradyse, who beeing innocent … [Ep.470]
Did lead a blist and happy lyfe untill that thurrough sin
He fell from God? From which tyme foorth all sorrow did begin.
The earth accursed for his sake, did never after more
Yeeld foode without great toyle. Both heate and cold did vexe him sore.
Disease of body, care of mynd, with hunger, thirst and neede,
Feare, hope, joy, greefe, and trouble, fell on him and on his seede.
And this is termd the silver age. Next which there did succeede
The brazen age, when malice first in peoples harts did breede,
Which never ceased growing till it did so farre outrage,
That nothing but destruction could the heate thereof asswage … [Ep.480]
For why mens stomackes wexing hard as steele ageinst their God,
Provoked him from day to day to strike them with his rod.
Prowd Gyants also did aryse that with presumptuous wills
Heapt wrong on wrong, and sin on sin lyke huge and lofty hilles.
Whereby they strove to clymb to heaven and God from thence to draw,
In scorning of his holy woord and breaking natures law.
For which anon ensewd the flood which overflowed all
The whole round earth and drowned quyght all creatures great and smal,
Excepting feaw that God did save as seede wherof should grow
Another ofspring. All these things the Poet heere dooth show … [Ep.490]
In colour, altring both the names of persons, tyme and place.
For where according to the truth of scripture in this cace,
The universall flood did fall but sixteene hundred yeeres
And six and fifty after the creation (as appeeres
By reckening of the ages of the fathers) under Noy,
With whom seven other persons mo like saufgard did enjoy
Within the arke, which at the end of one whole yeere did stay
Uppon the hilles of Armenie: the Poet following ay
The fables of the glorying Greekes (who shamelessely did take
The prayse of all things to themselves) in fablying wyse dooth make … [Ep.500]
It happen in Deucalions tyme, who reignd inThessaly
Eyght hundred winters since Noyes flood or thereupon well nye,
Bicause that in the reigne of him a myghty flood did fall,
That drownde the greater part of Greece, townes, cattell, folk, and all,
Save feaw that by the help of boats atteyned unto him
And to the highest of the forkt Parnasos top did swim.
And forbycause that hee and his were driven a whyle to dwell
Among the stonny hilles and rocks until the water fell,
The Poets hereupon did take occasion for to feyne,
That he and Pyrrha did repayre mankynd of stones ageyne. … [Ep.510]
So in the sixth booke afterward Amphions harp is sayd
The first foundation of the walles of Thebee to have layd,
Bycause that by his eloquence and justice (which are ment
By true accord of harmonie and musicall consent)
He gathered into Thebee towne, and in due order knit
The people that disperst and rude in hilles and rocks did sit.
So Orphey in the tenth booke is reported to delyght
The savage beasts, and for to hold the fleeting birds from flyght,
To move the senselesse stones, and stay swift rivers, and to make
The trees to follow after him and for his musick sake … [Ep.520]
To yeeld him shadow where he went. By which is signifyde
That in his doctrine such a force and sweetnesse was implyde,
That such as were most wyld, stowre, feerce, hard, witlesse, rude, and bent
Ageinst good order, were by him perswaded to relent,
And for to bee conformable to live in reverent awe
Like neybours in a common weale by justyce under law.
Considring then of things before reherst the whole effect,
I trust there is already shewd sufficient to detect
That Poets tooke the ground of all their cheefest fables out
Of scripture: which they shadowing with their gloses went about … [Ep.530]
To turn the truth to toyes and lyes. And of the selfsame rate
Are also theis: their Phlegeton, their Styx, their blisfull state
Of spirits in th’Elysian feelds. Of which the former twayne
Seeme counterfetted of the place where damned soules remaine,
Which wee call hell. The third dooth seeme to fetch his pedegree
From Paradyse which scripture shewes a place of blisse to bee.
If Poets then with leesings and with fables shadowed so
The certeine truth, what letteth us to plucke those visers fro
Their doings, and to bring ageine the darkened truth to lyght,
That all men may behold thereof the cleernesse shining bryght? … [Ep.540]
The readers therefore earnestly admonisht are to bee
To seeke a further meening than the letter gives to see.
The travail tane in that behalf although it have sum payne
Yit makes it double recompence with pleasure and with gayne.
With pleasure, for varietie and straungenesse of the things,
With gaine, for good instruction which the understanding brings.
And if they happening for to meete with any wanton woord
Or matter lewd, according as the person dooth avoord
In whom the evill is describde doo feele their myndes thereby
Provokte to vyce and wantonnesse, (as nature commonly … [Ep.550]
Is prone to evill) let them thus imagin in their mynd:
Behold, by sent of reason and by perfect syght I fynd
A Panther heere, whose peinted cote with yellow spots like gold
And pleasant smell allure myne eyes and senses to behold.
But well I know his face is grim and feerce, which he dooth hyde
To this intent, that whyle I thus stand gazing on his hyde,
He may devour mee unbewares. Ne let them more offend
At vices in this present woork in lyvely colours pend,
Than if that in a chrystall glasse fowle images they found,
Resembling folkes fowle visages that stand about it round. … [Ep.560]
For sure theis fables are not put in wryghting to th’entent
To further or allure to vyce: but rather this is ment,
That men beholding what they bee when vyce dooth reigne in stead
Of vertue, should not let their lewd affections have the head.
For as there is no creature more divine than man as long
As reason hath the sovereintie and standeth firme and strong:
So is there none more beastly, vyle, and develish, than is hee,
If reason giving over, by affection mated bee.
The use of this same booke therfore is this: that every man
(Endevoring for to know himself as neerly as he can, … [Ep.570]
As though he in a chariot sate well ordered,) should direct
His mynd by reason in the way of vertue, and correct
His feerce affections with the bit of temprance, lest perchaunce
They taking bridle in the teeth lyke wilfull jades doo praunce
Away, and headlong carie him to every filthy pit
Of vyce, and drinking of the same defyle his soule with it:
Or else doo headlong harrie him uppon the rockes of sin,
And overthrowing forcibly the chariot he sits in,
Doo teare him woorse than ever was Hippolytus the sonne
Of Theseus when he went about his fathers wrath to shun. … [Ep.580]
This worthie worke in which of good examples are so many,
This Ortyard of Alcinous in which there wants not any
Herb, tree, or frute that may mans use for health or pleasure serve,
This plenteous horne of Acheloy which justly dooth deserve
To beare the name of treasorie of knowledge, I present
To your good Lordship once ageine not as a member rent
Or parted from the resdew of the body any more:
But fully now accomplished, desiring you therfore
To let your noble courtesie and favor countervayle
My faults where Art or eloquence on my behalf dooth fayle. … [Ep.590]
For sure the marke whereat I shoote is neyther wreathes of bay,
Nor name of Poet, no nor meede: but cheefly that it may
Bee lyked well of you and all the wise and lerned sort,
And next that every wyght that shall have pleasure for to sport
Him in this gardeine, may as well beare wholsome frute away
As only on the pleasant flowres his rechlesse senses stay.
But why seeme I theis doubts to cast, as if that he who tooke
With favor and with gentlenesse a parcell of the booke
Would not likewyse accept the whole? Or even as if that they
Who doo excell in wisdome and in learning, would not wey … [Ep.600]
A wyse and lerned woorke aryght? Or else as if that I
Ought ay to have a speciall care how all men doo apply
My dooings to their owne behoof? As of the former twayne
I have great hope and confidence: so would I also fayne
The other should according to good meening find successe:
If other wyse, the fault is theyrs not myne they must confesse.
And therefore breefly to conclude, I turn ageine to thee,
0 noble Erle of Leycester, whose lyfe God graunt may bee
As long in honor, helth and welth as auncient Nestors was,
Or rather as Tithonussis: that all such students as … [Ep.610]
Doo travell to enrich our toong with knowledge heretofore
Not common to our vulgar speech, may dayly more and more
Procede through thy good furtherance and favor in the same.
Too all mens profit and delyght, and thy eternall fame.
And that (which is a greater thing) our natyve country may
Long tyme enjoy thy counsell and thy travail to her stay.

At Barwicke the xx. of Aprill. 1567
Your good L. most humbly to commaund                                                                

                                                                             ARTHUR GOLDING

T H E     P R E F A C E .


I would not wish the simple sort offended for to bee,
When in this booke the heathen names of feyned Godds they see.
The trewe and everliving God the Paynims did not knowe:
Which caused them the name of Godds on creatures to bestow.
For nature beeing once corrupt and knowledge blynded quyght
By Adams fall, those little seedes and sparkes of heavenly lyght
That did as yit remayne in man, endevering foorth to burst
And wanting grace and powre to growe to that they were at furst,
To superstition did decline: and drave the fearefull mynd,
Straunge woorshippes of the living God in creatures for to fynd. … [Pref.10]
The which by custome taking roote, and growing so to strength,
Through Sathans help possest the hartes of all the world at length.
Some woorshipt al the hoste of heaven: some deadmens ghostes & bones:
Sum wicked feends: sum wormes and fowles, herbes, fishes, trees and stones.
The fyre, the ayre, the sea, the land, and every roonning brooke,
Eche queachie grove, eche cragged cliffe the name of Godhead tooke.
The nyght and day, the fleeting howres, the seasons of the yeere,
And every straunge and monstruous thing, for Godds mistaken weere.
There was no vertue, no nor vice: there was no gift of mynd
Or bodye, but some God therto or Goddesse was assignde. … [Pref. 20]
Of health and sicknesse, lyfe and death, of needinesse and wealth,
Of peace and warre, of love and hate, of murder, craft and stealth,
Of bread and wyne, of slouthfull sleepe, and of theyr solemne games,
And every other tryfling toy theyr Goddes did beare the names.
And looke, how every man was bent to goodnesse or to ill,
He did surmyse his foolish Goddes enclyning to his will.
For God perceyving mannes pervers and wicked will to sinne
Did give him over to his lust to sinke or swim therin.
By meanes wherof it came to passe (as in this booke yee see)
That all theyr Goddes with whoordome, theft, or murder blotted bee. … [Pref. 30]
Which argues them to bee no Goddes, but woorser in effect
Than they whoose open poonnishment theyr dooings dooth detect.
Whoo seeing Jove whom heathen folke doo arme with triple fyre
In shape of Eagle, bull or swan to winne his foule desyre,
Or grysly Mars theyr God of warre intangled in a net
By Venus husband purposely to trappe him warely set,
Whoo seeing Saturne eating up the children he begate
Or Venus dalying wantonly with every lustie mate,
Whoo seeing Juno play the scold, or Phoebus moorne and rew
For losse of her whom in his rage through jealous moode he slew, … [Pref.40]
Or else the suttle Mercurie that beares the charmed rod
Conveying neate and hyding them, would take him for a God?
For if theis faultes in mortall men doo justly merit blame,
What greater madnesse can there bee than to impute the same
To Goddes, whose natures ought to bee most perfect, pure and bright,
Most vertuous, holly, chaast, and wyse, most full of grace and lyght?
But as there is no Christen man that can surmyse in mynd
That theis or other such are Goddes which are no Goddes by kynd:
So would to God there were not now of christen men profest,
That worshipt in theyr deedes theis Godds whose names they doo detest. … [Pref.50]
Whoose lawes wee keepe his thralles wee bee, and he our God indeede.
So long is Christ our God as wee in christen lyfe proceede.
But if wee yeeld to fleshlye lust, to lucre, or to wrath,
Or if that Envy, Gluttony, or Pryde the maystry hath,
Or any other kynd of sinne, the thing the which wee serve
To bee accounted for our God most justly dooth deserve.
Then must wee thinke the learned men that did theis names frequent,
Some further things and purposes by those devises ment.
By Jove and Juno understand all states of princely port:
By Ops and Saturne auncient folke that are of elder sort: … [Pref.60]
By Phoebus yoong and lusty brutes of hand and courage stout:
By Mars the valeant men of warre that love to feight it out:
By Pallas and the famous troupe of all the Muses nyne,
Such folke as in the sciences and vertuous artes doo shyne.
By Mercurie the suttle sort that use to filch and lye,
With theeves, and Merchants whoo to gayne theyr travail doo applye.
By Bacchus all the meaner trades and handycraftes are ment:
By Venus such as of the fleshe to filthie lust are bent.
By Neptune such as keepe the seas: by Phebe maydens chast,
And Pilgrims such as wandringly theyr tyme in travell waste. … [Pref.70]
By Pluto such as delve in mynes, and Ghostes of persones dead:
By Vulcane smythes and such as woorke in yron, tynne or lead.
By Hecat witches, Conjurers, and Necromancers reede:
With all such vayne and devlish artes as superstition breede.
By Satyres, Sylvanes, Nymphes and Faunes with other such besyde,
The playne and simple country folke that every where abyde.
I know theis names to other thinges, oft may and must agree
In declaration of the which I will not tedious bee.
But leave them to the Readers will to take in sundry wyse,
As matter rysing giveth cause constructions to devyse. … [Pref.80]
Now when thou readst of God or man, in stone, in beast, or tree
It is a myrrour for thy self thyne owne estate to see.
For under feyned names of Goddes it was the Poets guyse,
The vice and faultes of all estates to taunt in covert wyse.
And likewyse to extoll with prayse such things as doo deserve,
Observing alwayes comlynesse from which they doo not swerve.
And as the persone greater is of birth, renowne or fame,
The greater ever is his laud, or fouler is his shame,
For if the States that on the earth the roome of God supply,
Declyne from vertue unto vice and live disorderly, … [Pref.90]
To Eagles, Tygres, Bulles, and Beares, and other figures straunge
Bothe to theyr people and themselves most hurtfull doo they chaunge,
And when the people give themselves to filthie life and synne,
What other kinde of shape thereby than filthie can they winne?
So was Licaon made a Woolfe: and Jove became a Bull:
The t’one for using crueltie, the tother for his trull.
So was Elpenor and his mates transformed into swyne,
For following of theyr filthie lust in women and in wyne.
Not that they lost theyr manly shape as to the outward showe,
But for that in their brutish brestes most beastly lustes did growe. … [Pref.100]
For why this lumpe of flesh and bones, this bodie, is not wee.
Wee are a thing which earthly eyes denyed are to see.
Our soule is wee endewd by God with reason from above:
Our bodie is but as our house, in which wee worke and move.
T’one part is common to us all, with God of heaven himself:
The tother common with the beastes, a vyle and stinking pelf.
The t’one bedect with heavenly giftes and endlesse: tother grosse,
Frayle, filthie, weake, and borne to dye as made of earthly drosse.
Now looke how long this clod of clay to reason dooth obey,
So long for men by just desert account our selves wee may. … [Pref.110]
But if wee suffer fleshly lustes as lawlesse Lordes to reigne,
Than are we beastes, wee are no men, wee have our name in vaine.
And if wee be so drownd in vice that feeling once bee gone,
Then may it well of us bee sayd, wee are a block or stone.
This surely did the Poets meene when in such sundry wyse
The pleasant tales of turned shapes they studyed to devyse.
There purpose was to profite men, and also to delyght
And so to handle every thing as best might like the sight.
For as the Image portrayd out in simple whight and blacke
(Though well proportiond, trew and faire) if comly colours lacke, … [Pref.120]
Delyghteth not the eye so much, nor yet contentes the mynde
So much as that that shadowed is with colours in his kynde:
Even so a playne and naked tale or storie simply told
(Although the matter bee in deede of valewe more than gold)
Makes not the hearer so attent to print it in his hart,
As when the thing is well declarde, with pleasant termes and art.
All which the Poets knew right well: and for the greater grace,
As Persian kings did never go abrode with open face,
But with some lawne or silken skarf, for reverence of theyr state:
Even so they following in their woorkes the selfsame trade and rate, … [Pref.130]
Did under covert names and termes theyr doctrines so emplye,
As that it is ryght darke and hard theyr meening to espye.
But beeing found it is more sweete and makes the mynd more glad,
Than if a man of tryed gold a treasure gayned had.
For as the body hath his joy in pleasant smelles and syghts:
Even so in knowledge and in artes the mynd as much delights.
Wherof aboundant hoordes and heapes in Poets packed beene
So hid that (saving unto fewe) they are not to bee seene.
And therfore whooso dooth attempt the Poets woorkes to reede,
Must bring with him a stayed head and judgement to proceede. … [Pref.140]
For as there bee most wholsome hestes and precepts to bee found,
So are theyr rockes and shallowe shelves to ronne the ship aground.
Some naughtie persone seeing vyce shewd lyvely in his hew,
These persons overshoote themselves, and other folkes deceyve:
Dooth take occasion by and by like vices to ensew.
Another beeing more severe than wisdome dooth requyre,
Beeholding vice (to outward shewe) exalted in desyre,
Condemnetb by and by the booke and him that did it make.
And willes it to be burnd with fyre for lewd example sake.
Not able of the authors mynd the meening to conceyve. … [Pref.150]
The Authors purpose is to paint and set before our eyes
The lyvely Image of the thoughts that in our stomackes ryse.
Eche vice and vertue seems to speake and argue to our face,
With such perswasions as they have theyr dooinges to embrace.
And if a wicked persone seeme his vices to exalt,
Esteeme not him that wrate the woorke in such defaultes to halt.
But rather with an upryght eye consyder well thy thought:
See if corrupted nature have the like within thee wrought.
Marke what affection dooth perswade in every kynd of matter.
Judge if that even in heynous crymes thy fancy doo not flatter. … [Pref.160]
And were it not for dread of lawe or dread of God above,
Most men (I feare) would doo the things that fond affections move.
Then take theis woorkes as fragrant flowers most full of pleasant juce,
The which the Bee conveying home may put to wholesome use:
And which the spyder sucking on to poyson may convert,
Through venym spred in all her limbes and native in her hart.
For to the pure and Godly mynd are all things pure and cleene,
And unto such as are corrupt the best corrupted beene:
Lyke as the fynest meates and drinkes that can bee made by art
In sickly folkes to nourishment of sicknesse doo convert. … [Pref.170]
And therefore not regarding such whose dyet is so fyne
That nothing can digest with them onlesse it bee devine,
Nor such as to theyr proper harme doo wrest and wring awrye
The thinges that to a good intent are written pleasantly,
Through Ovids woorke of turned shapes I have with peinfull pace
Past on untill I had atteyned the end of all my race.
And now I have him made so well acquainted with our toong
As that he may in English verse as in his owne bee soong.
Wherein although for pleasant style, I cannot make account,
To match myne author, who in that all other dooth surmount: … [Pref. 180]
Yit (gentle Reader) doo I trust my travail in this cace
May purchace favour in thy sight my dooings to embrace:
Considring what a sea of goodes and Jewelles thou shalt fynd,
Not more delyghtfull to the eare than frutefull to the mynd.
For this doo lerned persons deeme, of Ovids present woorke:
That in no one of all his bookes the which he wrate, doo lurke
Mo darke and secret misteries, mo counselles wyse and sage,
Mo good ensamples, mo reprooves of vyce in youth and age,
Mo fyne inventions to delight, mo matters clerkly knit,
No, nor more straunge varietie to shew a lerned wit. … [Pref. 190]
The high, the lowe: the riche, the poore: the mayster, and the slave:
The mayd, the wife: the man, the chyld: the simple and the brave:
The yoong, the old: the good, the bad: the warriour strong and stout:
The wyse, the foole: the countrie cloyne: the lerned and the lout:
And every other living wight shall in this mirrour see
His whole estate, thoughtes, woordes and deedes expresly shewd to bee.
Whereof if more particular examples thou doo crave,
In reading the Epistle through thou shalt thy longing have.
Moreover thou mayst fynd herein descriptions of the tymes:
With constellacions of the starres and planettes in theyr clymes: … [Pref.200]
The Sites of Countries, Cities, hilles, seas, forestes, playnes and floods:
The natures both of fowles, beastes, wormes, herbes, mettals, stones and woods,
And finally what ever thing is straunge and delectable,
The same conveyed shall you fynd most featly in some fable.
And even as in a cheyne eche linke within another wynds,
And both with that that went before and that that followes binds:
So every tale within this booke dooth seeme to take his ground
Of that that was reherst before, and enters in the bound
Of that that folowes after it: and every one gives light
To other: so that whoo so meenes to understand them ryght, … [Pref.210]
Must have a care as well to know the thing that went before,
As that the which he presently desyres to see so sore.
Now to th’intent that none have cause heereafter to complaine
Of mee as setter out of things that are but light and vaine,
If any stomacke be so weake as that it cannot brooke,
The lively setting forth of things described in this booke,
I give him counsell to absteine untill he bee more strong,
And for to use Ulysses feat ageinst the Meremayds song.
Or if he needes will heere and see and wilfully agree
(Through cause misconstrued) unto vice allured for to bee, … [Pref.220]
Then let him also marke the peine that dooth therof ensue,
And hold himself content with that that to his fault is due.


Length: Total 9,153 words
Preface: 2,464 words
Epistle: 6,606 words